After Fiona Apple paid tribute to a guardian angel former classmate on a Fetch the Bolt Cutters song, Shameika Stepney has returned the favor on “Shameika Said.” You might recall that Apple stormed back onto Billboard‘s Adult Alternative Songs chart for the first time in two decades back in May with the dizzying ode to the woman who said Apple “had potential” in the song “Shameika.”
Well, on Friday (Nov. 20) Stepney returned the favor to her childhood schoolmate with “Shameika Said,” which, of course, also features vocals from Apple. Stepney’s low-key hip-hop jam continues the story, only this time Shameika is in the driver’s seat dropping the jewels, “I know you’re building yourself sis/ But love every flaw/ There’s no boogie behind every door/ You the queen on the chessboard/ Dress for it more according/ Ain’t no stepping on them toes girl.”
In between, Stepney drops in Apple’s chorus to help the story come full circle. Speaking to Pitchfork, Stepney explains, “every time I hear this, it makes me cry… Girl, I feel this s–t. It gives me chills!,” speaking about the song dedicated to her old friend. According to the site, the two recently reunited for the first time since they were kids at the private Episcopal school St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s in West Harlem.
And though even Apple couldn’t remember if that kind fourth grader who swooped in to soothe her injured third grade feelings after bullies made fun of her was a true or composite memory, Shameika was, in fact, very real. In fact, she’s been an MC since she was a kid, joining several rap crews in her native Harlem Sugar Hill neighborhood and dropping her first mixtape track at 14.
Stepney says she first heard about Apple’s homage in late April, when a handwritten card arrived from their beloved former third grade teacher detailing the story of the track, which shocked her to the core. “Are you telling me that Fiona wrote a song about… like, is that what you’re saying!?” she recalls, describing how she screamed when she pulled the track up. She very much remembered how those girls bullied Fiona (“so absolutely adorable”) back in the day.
The pair finally reunited by FaceTime in July, when they spent two hours catching up, at which point Fiona found out that Stepney raps and asked her if she’d do a remix of the song. The resulting track is described as “charting the path that led two girls from Harlem back together after three decades to compare notes on life.”
“When we did the song, it was as though we had been together all of this time and talked every single day, like, This is my girl,” Stepney says, noting they not speak pretty frequently. “We’re never gonna be apart again. We’re like connected spiritually.”
Listen to “Shameika Said” below.